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Trump Concedes Legal Fight to Add Citizenship Question to Census, Issues Executive Order to Get Information By Other Means

President Donald Trump talks to reporters in Morristown, N.J., July 7, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Update 5:55p.m.: During a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump announced that he will abandon his ongoing legal battle to include a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census, and instead issue an executive order directing the Commerce Department to collect the information by other means.

President Trump is expected to announce Thursday afternoon that he is abandoning his long-running legal battle to add a citizenship question to the upcoming census and will instead issue an executive order instructing the Commerce Department to collect the information separately.

Trump is expected to make the announcement at a Thursday afternoon White House press conference while flanked by Attorney General William Barr, ABC News first reported. Any executive action is expected to be met with immediate legal challenges.

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census last month, finding that the administration’s stated justification for it — to protect the voting rights of minorities — was a “contrived” rationale designed to conceal the true motivation of deflating population numbers in traditionally blue congressional districts.

A federal judge in New York is now considering whether Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross concealed his true motivation for adding the question, and another judge in Maryland is considering whether the question is “discriminatory.”

Opponents of the move question argue that it will discourage respondents from filling out the census, leading to inaccuracies that affect the apportionment of congressional districts.

Barr told the Associated Press earlier this week that the administration had a clear legal path to adding the question and pushed back on the notion that a recent shake up in the Department of Justice legal team working on the issue signaled a change in strategy.

“The president is right on the legal grounds. I felt the Supreme Court decision was wrong, but it also made clear that the question was a perfectly legal question to ask, but the record had to be clarified,” Barr said in an interview.

The decennial national census included a citizenship question ten times between 1820 and 1950.

A citizenship question was last included on the decennial census in 1950.

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